Herbs & Plants

Barringtonia asiatica

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Botanical Name : Barringtonia asiatica
Family: Lecythidaceae
Genus: Barringtonia
Species: B.
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ericales

Synonym:     Mammea asiatica L., Barringtonia speciosa J.R.Forst. & G.Forst., Huttum speciosum (J.R.Forst. & G.Forst.) Britten, Agasta asiatica (L.) Miers, Michelia asiatica (L.) Kuntze.

Common Names: Fish Poison Tree, Putat or Sea Poison Tree. Barringtonia, Freshwater Mangrove, Indian Oak, Indian Putat • Assamese: Hendol, Hinyol, Pani amra • Bengali: Hijal • Hindi: Hijagal, Hijjal,  Samundarphal • Kannada: Mavinkubia, Niruganigily, Dhatripala • Malayalam: Attampu, Attupelu, Nir perzha • Marathi: Tiwar, Newar, Sathaphala, Samudraphala • Oriya: Nijhira • Sanskrit: Abdhiphala, Ambudhiphala, Ambuja • Tamil: Aram, Kadambu, Kadappai,  samudra pazham • Telugu: Kurpa • Urdu:

In Chinese: Bin Yu Rui (As B Asiatica), Mo Pan Jiao Shu (As B Speciosa), Yin Du Yu Rui (Taiwan).
In English : Balubiton, Barringtonia, Butong, Butun, Fish Poison Tree, Fish-Killer Tree, Fish-Poison Tree, Fish-Poison-Tree, Langasat, Lugo, Motong-Botong, Pertun, Putat Laut, Sea Poison Tree, Vuton
In Malay: Butong, Butun, Pertun, Putat Laut (Sarawak)
In Russian :Barringtonia Aziatskaia, Barringtonia Prekrasnaia (As B Speciosa)
In Spanish : Arbol De Los Muertos
In Thai :Chik Le
Habitat : Barringtonia asiatica is native to mangrove habitats on the tropical coasts and islands of the Indian Ocean and western Pacific Ocean from Zanzibar east to Taiwan, the Philippines, Fiji, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, the Cook Islands, Wallis and Futuna and French Polynesia.

(Barringtonia asiatica is a common plant in the Malaysian Mangroves and wetlands such as the Kuching wetlands and Bako National Park. Barringtonia asiatica is known locally as Putat laut or Butun.)

It is a small to medium-sized tree growing to 7–25 m tall. The leaves are narrow obovate, 20–40 cm in length and 10–20 cm in width. Fruit produced as mentioned earlier, is otherwise aptly known as the Box Fruit, due to distinct square like diagonals jutting out from the cross section of the fruit, given its semi spherical shape form from stem altering to a subpyramidal shape at its base. The fruit measures 9–11 cm in diameter, where a thick spongy fibrous layer covers the 4–5 cm diameter seed.


The fruit is dispersed in the same way as a coconut – by ocean current – and is extremely water-resistant and buoyant. It can survive afloat for up to fifteen years; it was one of the first plants to colonise Anak Krakatau when this island first appeared after the Krakatau eruption. When washed ashore, and soaked by rainwater, the seeds germinate.

Medicinal Uses:
Constituents: Seeds contain hydrocyanic acid (toxic), triterpinoid saponins and gallic acid.

This tree has long been used for medicine, timber. In traditional medicine, when children suffer from a cold in the chest, the seed is rubbed down on a stone with water and applied over the sternum, and if there is much dyspnoea a few grains with or without the juice of fresh ginger are administered internally and seldom fail to induce vomiting and the expulsion of mucus from the air passages. More recently it has become the focus of research for pain-killing compounds.

Seeds are used to get rid of intestinal worms and the heated leaves are used to treat stomachache and rheumatism.

Other Uses:
Box fruits are potent enough to be used as a fish poison. The seeds have been used ground to a powder to stun or kill fish for easy capture, suffocating the fish where the flesh is unaffected.

Its large pinkish-white, pom pom flowers give off a sickly sweet smell to attract bats and moths which pollinate the flowers at night.

Known Hazards: All parts of the tree are poisonous, the active poisons including saponins.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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Herbs & Plants

Barringtonia acutangula

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Botanical Name :Barringtonia acutangula Gaertn
Family: Lecythidaceae
Genus: Barringtonia
Species: B. acutangula
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ericales
Barringtonia edaphocarpa Gagnep
Barringtonia pedicellata Ridley
Barringtonia spicata Blume

Common Names :
Ingar, Ambuja, Hijjala, Samudraphala, Dhatri phala, Indian Oak

:Native to coastal wetlands in southern Asia and northern Australasia, from Afghanistan east to the Philippines and Queensland.
Barringtonia racemosa is mainly a coastal species that thrives under very humid, moist conditions. It is common along tropical and subtropical coasts in the Indian Ocean, starting at the east coast of South Africa. It is also common in Mozambique, Madagascar, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, southern China, northern Australia, the Ryukyu Islands of Japan and a number of Polynesian islands. It does grow well under dry conditions but it cannot tolerate even mild frost

Barringtonia acutangula is a midium size freshwater mangrove tree  or shrub  grows in alluvium sandy clay  on banks of river & creeks,floodplains. It has a straight, unbranched stem that leads to a rounded crown and is usually 4-8 m tall, but occasionally reaches 15 m. The bark is greyish brown to pink with white blotches and raised dots and lines. The branches are marked with leaf scars.
The leaves are alternate and carried in clusters at the ends of branches, are 180-320 x 55-145 mm, with petioles 5-12 mm long. The midribs are prominent on the lower side of the leaf and the branching veins are visible on both sides.

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The flowers are produced on hanging racemes up to 1 m long.It blooms during January -December.  The buds are pinkish red and split open to bring forth masses of delicate stamens in white sprays up to 35 mm wide, which are often tinged with pink. The flowers give off a pungent, putrid yet faintly sweet odour in the morning. The fruit are quadrangular, 65 x 40 mm. Each fruit contains a single seed surrounded by spongy, fibrous flesh that provides the buoyancy that allows the fruit to be carried off with the tide.

Click to see for more pictures:

Conservation status
: Barringtonia racemosa is not threatened in any way.

Medicinal Uses:
Its bark contains potent opioid painkillers.The fruit is spoken of as Samudra-phala and Dh?triphala or “nurse’s fruit,” and is one of the best known domestic remedies. When children suffer from a cold in the chest, the seed is rubbed down on a stone with water and applied over the sternum, and if there is much dyspnoea a few grains with or without the juice of fresh ginger are administered internally and seldom fail to induce vomiting and the expulsion of mucus from the air passages. To reduce the enlarged abdomen of children it is given in doses of from 2 to 3 grains in milk. Rumphius states that the roots are used to kill fish, and this use of the bark is known in most parts of India. The fish are said to be not unwholesome.
Barringtonia racemosa has similar properties, the bark, root and seed being bitter. Ainslie states that in Java and in Ternate the seeds are used for intoxicating fish. The powdered seeds of these plants induce sneezing.

You may click to see :-
*Antibacterial activity of Barringtonia acutangula against selected urinary tract pathogens

* Traditional use of Barringtonia acutangula Gaertn in fish farming

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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Herbs & Plants

Kalmi (Ipomoea reptans)

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N Ipoa D1600.
Image via Wikipedia

Botanical Name:Ipomoea reptans
Family: Convolvulaceae
Genus: Ipomoea subgenus
Genus:    Ipomoea
Species:    I. aquatica
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:    Solanales
Vernacular names: Kangkong, kangkung, water convolvulus, water spinach, swamp spinach, swamp morning glory (En). Kangkong, liseron d’eau, patate aquatique (Fr). Cancon, batata aquática (Po). Mriba wa ziwa (Sw).

In Bengal  it is called Kalmi

Habitat :Ipomoea aquatica is widespread as a swamp weed in all tropical and many subtropical lowland areas. It is a declared aquatic or terrestrial noxious weed in the south-eastern United States. It occurs in nearly all countries of tropical Africa, from Mauritania and Senegal, east to Eritrea and Somalia, and south to South Africa, and also in the Indian Ocean islands. It is a popular cultivated vegetable in South-East Asia and southern China, but is rare in India. It is known as a leafy vegetable in tropical America, where people of Asian origin cultivate it. It is grown on a small scale under protected cultivation in France, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands for Vietnamese, Thai and Indonesian clients. In tropical Africa it is reported as a collected wild vegetable in Benin, DR Congo, Kenya and Tanzania. Asian cultivars are occasionally grown on a small scale for the Asian clientele near big cities. Kangkong can be found in market gardens, e.g. in Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria.

DESCRIPTION: Water spinach is an herbaceous trailing vine that dwells in muddy stream banks, freshwater ponds, and marshes. This perennial aquatic vine is confined to the tropics and subtropics zones because it is susceptible to frosts and does not grow well when temperatures are below 23.9 C. Water spinach can reproduce sexually by producing one to four seeds in fruiting capsules or vegetatively by stem fragmentation. It is a member of the “morning-glory” family.

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Flowers: Funnel shaped, solitary or in few flowered clusters at leaf axils, two inches wide, pink to white in color, and darker in the throat (rarely nearly white).

Leaves: Arrowhead shaped, alternate, one to six inches long, and one to three inches wide

Stems: Vine like, trailing, with milky sap and roots at the nodes; usually to 9 ft. long but can be much longer.

Fruit: An oval or spherical capsule, woody at maturity, 1 cm long, holding 1 to 4 grayish seeds.

The first historical record of W ater spinach is of its cultivation as a vegetable during the Chin Dynasty around 300 A.D. Native to India and Southeast Asia, but widely cultivated and naturalized in Asia, Africa, Australia, Pacific Islands, and South America. This aquatic vine is rich in iron, making it an ancient remedy for anemia. So people emigrating from Asian regions understandably wanted to take this nutritious vegetable along for use in traditional recipes. It is unclear when this plant was introduced in the United States, but this invasive and aggressive plant poses a serious threat to waterways in the Southern United States. W ater spinach has been introduced repeatedly to Florida waters since 1973, despite its state and federal listing as a prohibited plant and noxious weed.

Young shoots and leaves of water spinach are collected for use as a leafy vegetable. Often the whole above-ground plant part of cultivated water spinach , including the tender hollow stems, is consumed. Water spinatch can be stir-fried, steamed, boiled for a few minutes or lightly fried in oil and eaten in various dishes. It is often mixed with hot peppers and garlic, and prepared with meat or fish. In Asia the leaves are sometimes separated from the stems, and the stems are cooked a bit longer. In Africa only the leaves of wild plants are consumed, the stems are removed. The roots are occasionally eaten. Wild kangkong is often collected as fodder for cattle and pigs.

In Indonesia, kangkong or water spinach  is traditionally given at dinner to young children to make them quiet and help them sleep well. In Asia it is used in traditional medicine. The sap is used as an emetic, purgative and sedative, and flower buds are applied to ringworm. In Sri Lanka kangkong is used to treat diabetes mellitus.

The nutritional composition of raw kangkong per 100 g edible portion is: water 92.5 g, energy 80 kJ (19 kcal), protein 2.6 g, fat 0.2 g, carbohydrate 3.1 g, dietary fibre 2.1 g, Ca 77 mg, Mg 71 mg, P 39 mg, Fe 1.7 mg, Zn 0.2 mg, vitamin A 6300 IU, thiamin 0.03 mg, riboflavin 0.10 mg, niacin 0.90 mg, folate 57 ?g, ascorbic acid 55 mg (USDA, 2002). The nutritional value of leaf-blades is higher than that of petioles and stems; unfortunately, sources do not state whether stems and leaves or leaves only were analysed. Accumulation of heavy metals in kangkong has been reported for Asia because the plants often grow in polluted water.

Medicinal Uses:
Kangkong showed oral hypoglycaemic activity in tests with diabetic humans and rats; it was shown that an aqueous leaf extract can be as effective as tolbutamide in reducing blood glucose levels.

Health risk:
If harvested from contaminated areas, and eaten raw, I. aquatica may transmit Fasciolopsis buski, an intestinal fluke parasite of humans and pigs, causing fasciolopsiasis.

Study in animals;
Studies conducted with pregnant diabetes-induced rats have shown a blood sugar-lowering effect of Ipomoea aquatica by inhibiting the intestinal absorption of glucose.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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Health Alert

Beware the Day Mosquito

An Anopheles stephensi :en:mosquito is obtaini...
Image via Wikipedia

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People living in countries like India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, bordering the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea, have recently been suffering from high fever, red rashes, muscle aches and incapacitating and excruciating joint pain. The disease, chikungunya, has now assumed epidemic proportions. It disregards economic status and affects everyone, from the poor farmer in his hut to the well-heeled businessman in his mansion. Entire families, housing colonies, villages and townships suffer together.


It starts suddenly and as the small joints of the hands and feet are affected the person is unable to walk. It fells a previously healthy person to the ground. Once the fever subsides, the joint pain remains for around 10-15 days in the young, 1-2 months in the middle aged and 3-6 months or even five years in older people. Work comes to a grinding halt as the patient is prostrate with a headache and joint pain.

High fever and joint pain can appear acutely in other infections like dengue, malaria or filaria. Joint pains caused by chikungunya last for months, so that it can be confused with non-infectious diseases like rheumatoid or osteoarthritis. Fortunately these diseases can be ruled out with X-rays and appropriate blood tests.

Chikungunya (meaning ‘bent over’ in an African tribal language) created confusion among physicians till it was rightly diagnosed during the present epidemic that started in 2006. Significantly, it wasn’t the first time that chikungunya was reported in India. In 1971 an epidemic of chikungunya was proven and documented in Calcutta.

Chikungunya is an arbo virus infection transmitted by the bite of the Aedes mosquito, a small, innocuous insect with an attractive striped body. As the mosquito is a daytime biter which is “domesticated”, entire families can be affected within a few days of each other. This is because, unlike the Culex and Anopheles mosquito species, which bite at dawn and dusk, the Aedes mosquito bites in broad daylight. It loves civilisation, and thrives and breeds prolifically in the new urban environment with open water storage, poor sewage disposal, and inadequate uncovered drains. It is a hardy survivor which requires only in a few millilitres of water to breed in, a quantity that easily accumulates in old tyres, upturned bottle caps and flower vases. It can also survive in luggage, clothes, cars, trains and planes and then be inadvertently carried by tourists from one place to another. The Indian epidemic has now spread to Italy and other countries in Europe. There is a reservoir of infection as the virus survives in warm blooded vertebrates like monkeys, rodents and birds.

Treatment for chikungunya is not very satisfactory. NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and paracetemol can be used for pain and fever. New studies have shown that 250mg of chloroquine (a drug used for malaria) once a day reduces joint pain. Patients become very frustrated as the response is slow and unpredictable. This makes them “doctor shop” and opt for non-conventional therapy. This can result in misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment and may be dangerous.

There is no vaccine to prevent chikungunya. The only effective method is to prevent the mosquito bites. Since the bites occur in the daytime, mosquito nets are not effective. Keeping an affected individual in a net for 24 hours a day prevents the disease spreading to others in the house. The breeding of the mosquito should be prevented by eliminating breeding grounds.

As you walk, turn over bottles caps and coconut shells so that rainwater doesn’t accumulate and stagnate. Straighten sagging canvas and plastic coverings periodically.

Empty air conditioning and cooler trays. Alternatively, put a handful of salt into the tray so that mosquitoes cannot breed.

Do not place trays under potted plants. Empty pots and vases regularly.

Fix mosquito mesh on open tanks and wells.

Windows and doors can be “mosquito proofed” using inexpensive plastic mesh.

BTI (bacillus thurin giensis israelensis) is a naturally occurring bacterium that kills immature mosquito larvae. It is available with the government malaria control division. The substance is nontoxic to humans and can be dumped in stagnant brackish or slowly flowing water.

There are some hardy mosquito larva eating ornamental fish, like Gambusia and Poecilia (guppy), which can be added to public ponds, canals and sewers.

Coils, liquid repellents and mosquito mats are better avoided. They should not be used in places where there are children below the age of six months. They can cause respiratory allergy, and lead to wheezing and sneezing in susceptible individuals.

Many mosquitoes are now resistant to DDT and other commonly used insecticides so that they survive and reproduce despite regular spraying by government and private agencies. Spraying the environment with insecticides causes the development of “pesticide resistance” in mosquitoes and respiratory allergies in susceptible individuals. It is eventually counterproductive.

Sources: The Telegrapg (Kolkata, India)

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Healthy Tips

Fish eating

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FISH and other SEAFOOD can play an important role in a good diet. Because fish are high in protein but low in unhealthy fats, they make a great alternative to red meat. Fish are a good source of vitamins and minerals Fish has an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which may protect against coronary heart disease and stroke, and are thought to aid in the neurological development of unborn babies,” said Joshua Cohen, lead author and senior research associate at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis at HSPH.


It is recomended that eating fish(particularly fatty fish) atleast two times a week is very good for health. Fatty fish like mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon are high in two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Two new studies give one more reason to eat a diet rich in fish: prevention of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in old age .

Even though the world’s fish contain slight amounts of mercury, eating lots of fish carries no detectable health risk from low levels of the substance, even for very young children and pregnant women, concludes the most comprehensive study of the subject yet.

The findings come from a nine-year University of Rochester study conducted in the Republic of the Seychelles, an island nation in the Indian Ocean where most people eat nearly a dozen fish meals each week and whose mercury levels are about 10 times higher than most U.S. citizens. Indeed, no harmful effects were seen in children at levels up to 20 times the average U.S. level. The work is published in the August 26 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association 2005.

Who should choose their fish carefully?
Too much mercury and PCBs can cause health problems for anyone. Because they alter the way young brains develop, these pollutants can harm babies and children most of all. Both mercury and PCBs linger in the body and build up over time. They can pass from a pregnant woman or a nursing mother to her baby.

It’s especially important for all children under 15, teenage girls, and women who are pregnant or could get pregnant to avoid eating fish that have high levels of mercury or PCBs

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